This site is a collation of descendants of Casper Bernhardt and his brothers of Baden, Germany.

The information comes from various Bernhardt and Barnhart descendants, both in my line and others, but the bulk of the credit for much of it goes to Howard Barnhart and Janet (Kirchner) Warter in their compilation, The History of Casper Bernhardt and His Descendants.

Based upon the manumission records and the tax records recording what the Bernhardt family had to pay to secure permission for the emigrations, officials in Germany have suggested that Casper came from the Amt of Sprendlingen. An amt is an administrative district that is usually a bit larger than a municipality, somewhat analogous to an American township. In the 18th century it was part of the Margraviate of Baden. The bulk of Baden proper lay to the east of the Rhine River in what is now the state of Baden-Württemberg. However, inheritances and territorial acquisitions had added a number of pockets to the Margrave's holdings that were under Badish control but physically separated from the state. Sprendlingen was in one of these located on the west side of the Rhine about five miles east of Bad Kreuznach in what is now the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Today the journey from Bad Kreuznach to Sprendlingen would take about 15 minutes on country roads. [Barnhart/Warter] records that Johann Wilhelm Bernhardt mentioned a 4½ hour trip between the two places.

Placing the family home at this location is not certain. In 1992, Howard Barnhart commissioned a review of the church records covering the years 1700-1750 by the Pastor of Sprendlingen. This search included the churchs of Sprendlingen, St. Johan's and Wolfheim. Neither Casper and his immediate family, nor other siblings and cousins that were expected were found. This isn't as conclusive as it might seem as church records of this area were sometimes destroyed in the struggles of rulers to impose their religious preferences upon the population. Some genealogies put the family home as Thalby in the Mittellukalz. I cannot find a town by that name in Germany today and members of the German Genealogical Society of America believe that this is a mistranslation of Middle Pfalz—the latter word being the German for Palatinate.

The reason for the Bernhardt emigration is probably twofold. Howard Barnhart says that his grandfather, Dale Barnhart, recounted that his grandmother, Susanna (Barnhart) Shakely, recounted that her grandfather, Johann Wilhelm Bernhardt, said they came to America so that, "sons would not have to fight against their own countrymen to further the political aims of their rulers." He was referring to the Seven Years War, in which it is believed he was conscripted. Forced conscription and fighting ones neighbors was probably a factor. However, it doesn't fully explain the emigrations by the family prior to the war. In all likelihood there was also an economic motivation.

Though the region had been ravaged by war at the beginning of the century, it was recovering its prosperity. However, the economy was purely agrarian. What had comfortably supported 62 families in the 1652 had 152 families by 1708 (when it passed into Baden control) and, since all the land was under cultivation, there was no room for expansion. By 1730 every family had members emigrating as they could no longer support themselves by working the land.